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"The Beautiful Game" (for some)

This article is more than 12 years old.

There is nothing duller than four quarters of the shoving match involving the lines of two football teams, except perhaps the huddle.

The subtlety with which a quick and clever lineman can gain a split-second’s advantage by throwing his opponent off balance with a feint presents us with an exceptional marriage of force and imagination.

Baseball is untimed twitching, spitting, and staring in for the sign, punctuated by the eventual pitch taken for ball two.

Only a dolt can fail to see that the national pastime creates a tension of anticipation unmatched by any activity but Russian roulette.

Whistle. March to the foul line. Whistle. March to the foul line. Whistle. Shuffle to the foul line, because by now even the people actually playing the game are tired of the drill.

The wonder of basketball played at the highest level is not so much that enormous men operating in a confined space so often avoid falling on each other, but that they do so with extraordinary grace while hitting shots that range from unlikely to impossible.

A good golf writer can get several paragraphs out of the angle assumed by the caddie’s eyebrow when his master considers removing from the bag a club about which said caddie has profound doubt, and that’s a good thing, because nothing more compelling may happen on the course all day.

Above all sports, golf mirrors life in the way it measures the player against himself, reveals his weaknesses, punishes his poor choices, and teaches him that even a shot hit well can unfairly misbehave and crush his hopes to dust.

What distinguishes the upright mammal from, say, the dog, the owl, or the sea slug is hands. Nobody who understands that can regard soccer as a good game for people.

It cannot be coincidence or accident that the passion for soccer connects the members of the global community as no other game has ever done.

You say tomato, and I say tomato.

You pays your money and you takes your choice… and whatever your choice, you do pay your money. Anyway, truth is beauty and beauty truth, and if you don’t think it’s true that soccer’s beautiful, pick another game and enjoy the ride.

This program aired on June 17, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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